The wholesale channel is a vital route to market and a natural home for brands which thrives on partnerships, FWD Chairman Coral Rose told the 750 guests at last night’s Gold Medal Awards.

As awards were presented to individuals including drivers, telesales staff and depot workers, Coral added that the sector was a great place for people working for both wholesalers and suppliers to build a career.

“The channel faced challenges like never before,” she said in an opening address.

“Panic buying in the early days of the pandemic; the closures of hospitality and schools;

millions of pounds of stock on the shelves with no one to buy it; little or no support from a Government that just didn’t understand how food gets to plates.

“And then stock shortages, driver shortages, depot staff shortages fuel shortages, CO2 shortages.

“But we’ve come through it all, and we will continue to do so, with the support of product suppliers and service providers who understand that wholesale is a vital route to market, a natural home for brands, a channel that thrives on partnerships, and a great place to build your career.”

She said FWD members had me the challenges with “energy, creativity, innovation, adaptability and most of all, teamwork. Not just within our own organisations, but up and down the supply chain, sharing ideas, sharing data and exploring new ways to serve our customers.”

Among the winning wholesalers on the night were Parfett’s, crowned Retail Wholesaler of the Year, with Creed Foodservice taking the Foodservice Wholesaler Medal. A new award for a wholesaler with a turnover of less than £20m went to Harvest Fine Foods.

The Medals for suppliers were nominated and voted for by wholesalers. Pepsi Max was chosen as Retail Brand of the Year, and Hellman’s the Foodservice Brand. Kellogg’s was chosen for the Service to Wholesale medal, and Retail Product of the year went to Cadbury’s Twirl Orange.

Individual winners included Mazhar Akram of United Wholesale Grocers in the Wholesale Manager category, with Sugro’s Tabitha Hunter-Smale winning Wholesale Star and Kelly Burrows of AF Blakemore chosen as the Emerging Talent of the year.

Coral Rose said: “The winners and shortlisted finalists here tonight are our Wholesale Heroes, and I want to tell them on your behalf just how highly we value their extraordinary commitment.”

Retail Wholesaler sponsored by Boost Drinks

Parfett’s

The judges said this was an outstanding entry by Parfetts who challenged themselves to be ‘the easiest wholesaler to do business with.’ During the pandemic the company converted its depots into 24 hour operations investing in depot expansions and 26 new lorries. Like-for-Like sales increased by 40%, and on line sales now account for a third of business.

Shortlisted: Bestway Wholesale, Dee Bee Wholesale

Foodservice Wholesaler sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions

Creed Foodservice

With its company culture of ‘Believing in More’, Creed ensured its customers received all they needed through the pandemic.  Over 200 new accounts were opened in the first 6 weeks and with heavy investment in additional stock, order fulfilment of over 99.7% was achieved. The company is helping customers meet the requirements of Natasha’s law, and opened The Creed Barn, a Covid secure outside venue for cooking and menu development sessions.

Shortlisted: Brakes, JJ Foodservice

Smaller Wholesaler sponsored by Lumina Intelligence

Harvest Fine Foods

Harvest’s home delivery system was up and running within 24 hours of lockdown, attracting over 14,000 customers and helping online sales to grow five-fold. Targeting sustainable cost sector business saw very positive trading results, while new developments included helping the vulnerable with recipe boxes, and webinars to prepare customers for Natasha’s Law.

Shortlisted: Mevalco, Robinson’s Fine Foods

Digital Innovation supported by Imperial Tobacco

JJ Foodservice

JJ used its tech company Foodit to help restaurants launch their own websites in the early weeks of lockdown. With its fixed commission Foodit helped hospitality customers operate profitably and sustainably online. It enabled restaurants to print their own QR codes to use on tables and menus so customers could order and pay online, contact free.

Shortlisted: Bestway Wholesale, Time Wholesale Services

Use of Data and Insight sponsored by Budweiser Brewing Group

Time Wholesale Services

Time proved to the judges that they have turned Data into Insight and then into Action, supported by some immense results. The “Voice of the Customer” initiative has been fundamental in futureproofing the business and is driving drive more efficiencies, reducing costs, and moving Time to a paperless business.

Shortlisted: Bestway Wholesale, Pricecheck

Green Wholesaler sponsored by KP Snacks

Booker

Carbon Trust Associate Director Silvana Centy said Booker’s submission outlined clear reduction goals, demonstrating reductions on carbon, water and waste year after year and setting Science Based Targets aligned to the level of decarbonisation required. The judges welcomed Booker’s sustainable sourcing initiatives and the supporting statements from Fareshare and Olio.

Shortlisted: Brakes, Lomond

Telesales Star sponsored by Premier Foods

Alan Mayor, AF Blakemore

Alan takes the time to understand customers needs and then marries them to Blakemore’s offer. He is always praised for his open, honest and supportive leadership, and the role he plays in developing his team members. With this balance of knowledge and personality he has exceeded his sales target by 50%.

Shortlisted: Hannah Malone, Dunsters Farm, Grace Mullins, Harvest Fine Foods.

Star Driver sponsored by Upfield

Ryan Hunt, Bidfood

Ryan is described as the perfect advert for Bidfood’s Slough depot, having become a senior driver and recently doubling up as Transport Supervisor. During Covid he put his own health on the line to make sure Hospitals, Care Homes, Prisons and Schools were stocked. Nothing is ever too much trouble for Ryan who is always cool, collected, and dedicated to the business.

Shortlisted: Mark Fletcher, Creed Foodservice, Colin Woods, Booker Scotland.

Wholesale Manager sponsored by Britvic

Mazhar Akram, United Wholesale Grocers

Mazhar impressed the judges with his initiatives, his focus, his passion and his commitment to the business, which has led to a near 60% increase in depot sales. He also introduced Wellness training for both staff and customers. Mazhar foresaw the HGV driver shortage and convinced the company to change their fleet to vans, and he worked on a brilliant staff sharing scheme for United’s retail customers.

Shortlisted: Patrick Naylor, Creed Foodservice, Ryan Mogg, Booker

Customer Development sponsored by Heineken

Ian Cawley, AF Blakemore

National Account Manager Ian impressed the judges by going  over and above during the pandemic when he actually did better than his own buying team in securing stock and availability. He is described as a focussed manager, a team player within the business, and crucially a great communicator. His company say he’s an unsung hero who is a credit to the wholesale industry.

Shortlisted: Gary Wright, Booker, Shane Kendrick, Harvest Fine Foods

Wholesale Star sponsored by Barr Soft Drinks

Tabitha Hunter-Smale, Sugro UK

Described as “relentlessly positive”, Head of Business Development Tabitha supported over 80 members through covid, keeping in touch through lockdowns with regular video calls, and two online conferences. Her efforts contributed to 12% sales growth and the recruitment of 13 new members. Tabitha is part of an Alzheimer’s Society initiative and thanks to her 75% of staff are now being trained as Dementia Friends.

Shortlisted: Kelly Pye, Millennium Group, Louise Lyle, Bidfood

Emerging Talent supported by JTI

Kelly Burrows, AF Blakemore

Our judges were amazed at Kelly’s understanding of supply chain and logistics management and her staggering results in a complex industry, including 700,000 food miles saved annually. She has led negotiations with more than 150 suppliers in the last two years and improved supply chain efficiencies with new Backhaul and Centralisation initiatives.

Shortlisted: Natalie Bance, Bidfood, Ryan Neale, Bidfood

Supplier Winners

Gold Medal Retail Brand sponsored by Parfetts

Winner: Pepsi Max

Shortlisted: Kellogg’s Cornflakes, McCoys.

Gold Medal Licensed Brand sponsored by Bestway

Winner: Peroni

Shortlisted: Birra Moretti, Thatchers Cider

Gold Medal Foodservice Brand sponsored by Unitas

Winner: Hellman’s

Shortlisted: McDougall’s, Kellogg’s

Gold Medal Data and Insight sponsored by SalesOut

Winner: Britvic

Shortlisted: KP Snacks, Unilever Food Solutions

Gold Medal Service to Wholesale sponsored by Booker

Winner: Kellogg’s

Shortlisted: AG Barr, Premier Foods

Gold Medal New Retail Product sponsored by Unitas

Winner: Cadbury’s Twirl Orange Shortlisted: Rubicon Raw, Monster

Gold Medal New Foodservice Product sponsored by Bidfood

Winner: Hellman’s Vegan Mayo Shortlisted: Violife, Ribena Sparkling

Gold Medal Digital Innovation sponsored by Confex

Winner: Red Bull

Shortlisted: Kraft Heinz, Swizzells Matlow

Gold Medal Process Innovation sponsored by Bestway

Winner: PepsiCo

Shortlisted: CCEP, Nestlé Purina

Gold Medal Green Supplier sponsored by American Express

Winner: Molson Coors

Shortlisted: AG Barr, Accolade Wines

Gold Medal Emerging Talent sponsored by Costco

Winner: Frankie James-Howes, KP Snacks 

During the COVID-19 pandemic Frankie supported her customers by keeping them up to date on product availability and supply chain developments. She was always accessible and continued the flow of information, ideas, data, trends & insights. Frankie’s customer partnerships emerged from the crisis stronger, which is a testament to her can-do attitude, commitment and agility. 

Shortlisted: Sandy MacEwan, TWC

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